You’ve invested in a standing desk to support your posture and overall health, and now your feet are suddenly hurting. Well, don’t give up on standing just yet.
I experienced the same problem.
After buying one of the best standing desks in Australia I quickly realised that I could stand for a maximum of 30 minutes before needing to sit back down. The discomfort in my feet was too great.
Thankfully, I researched the issue and found a few effective remedies.
Foot discomfort is quite common among new standing desk users. As WFH workers, we are so accustomed to sitting for long periods that it takes time for our feet to get used to standing.
I quelled my foot pain and now spend 6 hours per day standing and about 2 hours sitting – without any foot discomfort. I hope my “interventions” below help you achieve the same.
1. Use An Anti-Fatigue Mat.
Above: The Desky anti-fatigue mat is both effective and inexpensive. Retailing for between $55-$65 via the Desky website, it’s one of the most effective methods of preventing foot pain.
Standing on a hard surface creates tiny pressure points that you experience as discomfort.
An anti-fatigue mat, meanwhile, is intentionally soft. It forces your feet to make micro-adjustments a couple of times every minute, relieving the build-up of pressure.
But even if your floor has carpet, the pile is rarely thick enough to encourage a sufficient amount of foot movement.
You’ll find a few types of anti-fatigue mats on the market:
- Rubber / Polyurethane mats.
- Gel mats.
- Acupuncture mats.
- Orthopaedic mats.
- Interlocking foam mats.
Surprisingly, cheap rubber mats are just as effective as the expensive versions sold by osteopaths. Check out this article where we’ve reviewed the Desky and Aenean anti-fatigue mats.
2. Wear The Right Shoes.
Is your footwear suited to standing all day? The heeled shoes and hipster platform boots need to go:
- If your arches are hurting, your shoes probably lack cushioning.
- If you’re feeling pain or discomfort in the ball area, your heels might be too high.
- If your toes hurt, your shoes might be too narrow, too small and/or pointed.
In fact, do you wear shoes at all? Our days of gymnastics and dancing barefoot in the school sports hall are way behind us.
A pair of sneakers (e.g., Nike Pegasus) cost about $150 and are more likely to make your feet feel comfortable throughout your workday.
You don’t need to go splashing out on a pair of Kanye’s Yeezy sneakers. My mum’s a nurse who spends 10 hours per day on her feet, and she is obsessed with Crocs! I used to think they were an abomination until I tried them on. Wearing them is like walking on clouds.
3. Correct Your Posture.
Poor posture puts unnecessary pressure on the joints and feet.
Keep your feet at hip width, don’t slouch on the desk (for example, I have a nasty habit of propping myself up with my elbows when I start getting tired) and make sure that your computer monitor is at the same level as your eyes.
Doing this will:
- Promote circulation and prevent blood pooling in the lower legs.
- Prevent other posture-related problems, like neck pain, knee pain, and upper back pain.
As for the direction your feet face, make sure they face forward in a natural resting position.
Keep your feet flat and toes spread to keep your body well aligned and distribute your body’s weight evenly.
Do Your Body Weight And BMI Cause Foot Discomfort?
Speaking of body weight, if your BMI is outside of a healthy range, you will experience greater pressure on your feet.
Studies show a direct link between increased BMI and foot problems, like tendonitis and arthritis.
Research shows that 2 in 3 adult Aussies are either overweight or obese. If you’re one of them, create a set of disincentives that encourage you to adopt healthy behaviours. For example, agree that if you don’t hit the gym three times in any given week, you’ll donate $50 to charity.
4. Go For A 5-Minute Walk.
A quick walk relieves foot discomfort because it engages an entirely different set of muscles. Some ideas:
- Get a coffee from your favourite local cafe.
- Do some housework.
- Check for mail. Yes, in your physical mailbox (remember those)?
A walking treadmill could be an effective way of adding more steps to your workday while relieving foot pain. You can combine a walking treadmill with a standing desk to burn as many as 360 calories an hour.
Should You Monitor How Long You’re Standing?
You might be standing way more than you need to.
Researchers believe you need to stand 30 minutes an hour to reap all the benefits of a standing desk. Standing 50% of the time or even less is better than sitting all day.
If you have a smartwatch or a fitness band, you can check your stats on a fitness app.
Set an alarm to remind you to sit and stand every half hour. An Amazon Alexa will keep you on your toes (or not)!
5. What If The Pain Is Too Severe?
If your foot pain is strong, lie down and elevate your legs. This will reduce swelling and inflammation. Over-the-counter remedies and massage can also help.
- Ice pack and heat pads – ice for alleviating swelling and inflammation, heat for increased blood flow to relax foot muscles and aching joints.
- Lymphatic drainage – massages stimulate the lymph vessels, and patches are great for draining excess water and toxins.
Oedema is the build-up of fluid in certain areas of the body, and it’s extremely common in pregnancy (the feet, in particular) during the third trimester due to the increase in body weight.
6. Practice Foot Care.
If you’ve picked up a verruca or wart, zap it before it grows and spreads.
They’re more likely to grow or spread when your skin is wet or damaged, so wearing breathable socks (polyester, nylon, or wool) is best to prevent excess sweating.
Having a verruca sometimes feels like you have a stone under your sole and affects how you walk, putting unnatural pressure on other regions of your feet.
What about calluses?
Some are good, some are bad, and some are downright ugly.
Calluses develop to protect your feet against abrasions and cuts. Have you ever seen a ballet dancer’s feet? They’re hardened like tree bark!
But this layer of protective skin can get too thick and cause pain. Use a pumice stone to break down the callus, effectively sanding away the outer layer.
You should also:
- Moisturise your feet.
- Cut your toenails regularly.
- Wear breathable socks.
If you’ve got blisters, or if you want to prevent blisters and heel pain (especially if you wear uncomfortable high heels on nights out), wear Compeed blister plasters. Knock-off brands don’t even come close.
Final Words On Alleviating Foot Pain When Using Standing Desks.
If your feet hurt during your standing sessions at your brand-new standing desk, it’s a sign that you need to make a few changes. Contrary to what’s been mentioned above, however, is that sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.
The human body is capable of some amazing feats. The world record for balancing on one foot is 76 hr 40 min and is held by Arulanantham Suresh Joachim.
Pretty impressive, huh?
But Joachim didn’t just wake up one morning and decide he was going to break the record. He built up his tolerance gradually.